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Case Number 14325: Small Claims Court

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Camp Out

Liberation Entertainment // 2006 // 78 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // August 21st, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum never went to a gay Christian camp, but wonders if his summers at theatre camp count?

The Charge

Can you be gay and Christian at the same time?

The Case

How do you reconcile being gay, young, and Christian? Camp Out is an interesting documentary about a radical idea—a Christian camp for GLBT youths. The camp is not out to convert them to being straight, but rather find a way for them to reconcile embracing a religion that won't always embrace them back.

The film was directed by two veterans of reality television, Kirk Marcolina and Larry Grimaldi. These men were responsible for Bravo Television's first gay dating reality show, Boy Meets Boy, and they give this feature a light and upbeat television approach. This could be a very complex and deep subject, but they have chosen to explore surface things like crushes and activities more than spiritual angst or tortured souls crying in to scripture. The kids range from 15 to 18 years old, so these are certainly teens that have a sense of what their sexual identity means as well as how it conflicts with what they have been taught by religion.

The kids speak frankly about who they are and what issues they face. It's painful to watch them admit how they are teased and taunted, and you get the idea being gay hasn't become easier even though our awareness of it has grown. What's most interesting is when they explore religious issues, because that drifts into brave new territory of things we haven't seen often on film. The strongest moment in the whole thing comes when openly gay Lutheran pastor Jay Wiesner explains how he was ordained by his congregation. The moment is punctuated with video of the ceremony. Here we get to see a man of an older generation share his wisdom with these teens who are looking for answers and a role model. He represents hope for them in becoming happy adjusted gay men and women who have a strong sense of God and faith. Yet for most of its running time, Camp Out just shows us giggly gay and lesbian teenagers as they flirt and play at summer camp. It makes a nice counterpart to the documentary Jesus Camp, which was about fundamentalist Christian revival programs. Guess which kids have more fun and seem more loving?

The DVD contains a full screen transfer and a simple stereo mix. The picture is clear thanks to digital handheld cameras capturing most of the action. The stereo sound mix is clear and captures dialogue and singing well. This film has been shown at festival screenings and on cable channels like Logo, so it is suited for the small screen. The directors make everything look like reality television, so it's an logical candidate for home viewing. DVD Verdict was sent a screener copy of the feature and not a final product. Our disc did not have the supplemental features, but the DVD is pretty well loaded. Extras include commentary and deleted scenes including interviews with the parents. Overall it looks like a great package.

These are gay kids, but you wouldn't know from anything other than what they talk about. They're brave for wanting to pursue religion even though it is an institution that rejects them for the most part. It's interesting to hear them try to battle a spiritual war that has them in conflict with their inner selves. They do it with a lot of grace, a few laughs, and some heavy conversations. It's an uplifting documentary about kids being allowed to be who they want to become. There's certainly a lot to admire in a group of teens who want to be more than what they are expected to be both from their sexuality and belief system. But it begs the question, what is next? Gay Republican summer camp?

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: Liberation Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital Stereo (English)
• English
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Gay
• Religious and Spiritual

Distinguishing Marks

• Production Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Interviews with Parents
• Confessional Footage
• Photo Gallery
• Trailer

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